Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Tale

Is it because of Catherine Deneuve or that it's set in France that has given this movie such great reviews? In search of seasonal films I rented this one. How French was it? Arty family, check. Lots of food, drink, sex and cigarettes, check, check, check and check. Dysfunctional family? Yup. Incomprehensible plot? Ah, yes, in a nutshell. If it's obscure, that means it must be deep, right?
Rife with family drama (a sister banishes her brother from their family, why the other members of the family go along with this, is never quite explained) schizophrenia, twice, antisemitism, did I mention terminal disease and bone marrow donors? You'd think with all of this going on there might even be some dramatic tension. You'd be wrong.

It was so bad I had to go right out and rent my all time favorite seasonal flick: Die Hard. (Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, and a Christmas tree).

The only thing that got me through this art film was a batch of these cookies, which a neighbor introduced me to years ago at a cookie exchange. They are for people who love almonds and sugar. They're flourless and flawless.

Angel Cookies

Finely grind unblanched almonds until you have 1 3/4 cup.
Combine with 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3 large egg whites. Set your hand mixer to medium and beat until thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in 1 tsp almond extract and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Drop onto parchment paper and press a few sliced almonds on top. Bake at 375 degrees until just brown on top, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from parchment paper and onto rack. Cool.

Heavenly. Simply divine.

Wait, don't go yet! Need a wine and movie pairing list for the holidays? Check out this link!


  1. A similar thing happens to me when I go to a restaurant and am disappointed by the food. I feel like I need to go out and find good food to cancel out the bad. Forgot about Die Hard! That's a fun one.

  2. Oh please, best Christmas movie ever: Lion in Winter.

  3. I looked up an old review. The reviewer liked it and it still sounds pretentious.

    I don't mind a movie being indirect as long as there's something there worth searching for.

  4. By the laws objective logic, imho, it's becuz of Catherine Deneuve.

  5. CP--Glad that's settled!
    AH-ok, ms. eclectic--now I shall have to check it out. Although, if it's the movie I'm thinking of I am Katherine Hepburn challenged.
    M&P--I'm glad you feel my pain--

  6. I made some Italian pignole cookies this weekend that are very similar to your almond meringues, but with pine nuts pressed onto the top and almond paste (NOT marzipan!) as the main ingredient.

    They really turned out delicious and were not that difficult. It helped that I chilled the dough.

    My Italian hubby said, "Better than the bakery!" which was the highest compliment I could hope for. ;-)

  7. k: WHAT?!?! High praise for your pastry and you leave us dry with NO recipe? This is an outrage. Please cancel my subscription to the LA Times. But after I catch up on your articles first.

  8. But surely you're not Peter O'toole challenged. And it's the Christmas court. And the best dialogue evah.

  9. Okay, here's the recipe:
    1/2 lb almond paste (comes in a can at Claro's)
    2/3 c. white sugar
    2 egg whites
    1/4 c. pine nuts

    Toast pine nuts briefly to bring out flavor. Break up almond paste in a food processor until granular. Gradually add sugar while processing.

    In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into almond/sugar mixture gently.

    Chill dough to make easier to handle. Drop by teasponfuls onto cookie sheet with no sides, covered with quick-release aluminum foil or parchment paper, lightly sprayed. Press pine nuts into tops of cookies.

    Bake at 325F 10-12 minutes (took my slow oven about 13-15 mins) until lightly browned. Cook 10 minutes before removing from foil. Keep in air-tight container - made mine Sunday and they are still crunchy, light and chewy.

  10. Ooops - that should be "cool 10 minutes" before removing from foil.

  11. Karen:
    You're a goddess, too! Can't wait to try this!! Just in time for my rental of Lion in Winter--

  12. Here is my offering for the holidays. The six disc series by Charles and Rae Eames. You can find it at the South Pasadena library. They actually did education films for IBM. Arty? yes, why not

  13. Oho! A new one for the rental queue!